Why This Book?
I had the idea to create this book after seeing many After Effects users (with far more talent and skill in this arena than I have) doing things manually that could be easily done with the effects that ship with After Effects. Many times, users of After Effects will go back to Photoshop, or Illustrator, or their video editing application, or their dedicated 3D application to make small changes that could have been done quickly and just as well with effects in After Effects.
The problem is that there are now 189 native effects. Many of them are almost completely worthless. Others might seem worthless or abstract, leaving users to wonder—”When would I ever use this?” This book is my attempt to share with you what I’ve learned in my studies of these effects. The exercise files on the disc that accompanies this book were specifically geared to helping you discover how these effects might help you in your workflow.
How This Book is Laid Out
In this book, we’re going to examine (among other things) every native effect in After Effects, as well as some 3rd party tools that have been included with After Effects for quite some time.
We’re going to cover each effect in each category (e.g., Color Correction, Distort, Generate, and so on) in the order in which After Effects lists them in the Effects menu (and the Effects and Presets panel). After Effects organizes the categories alphabetically, and then the effects in that category are also organized alphabetically as well. And this is the same order that we will follow in this book. So, remember that these effects are not listed in the order of importance, or sorted in any other way.
After we’ve finished covering all of the effects, we’ll have a few appendix-type chapters that cover more intermediate and advanced effects topics, such as using multiple effects, using maps to control effect properties, and a brief glance at some of my favorite third-party effect solutions.
What’s New in This Edition?
This is always the first question on my mind when a new edition for a book is released. Well, let me tell you. There are MASSIVE updates in this edition. I have to thank Focal Press, who have been so patient with me (because I’ve been taking forever with this). Focal Press has also believed enough in this book to give me a ridiculously large page count for the first edition, and has upped that significantly in this edition. If this book was done halfway, it wouldn’t have worked.
So with that, let me give you a brief heads up as to what is new in this edition. First of all, in Chapter 21, I’ll take a look at the Cycore effects. This massive collection of over 70 effects has been shipping with After Effects for a long time now, and it’s time to take a look. The Cycore effects extend the functionality of After Effects so much, including adding the best native particle systems, all kinds of transitions, blurs, fast rendering and intuitive distortions, weather systems and more. We’ll dig into all of this in Chapter 21.
And while we’re adding more support for third-party effects included with After Effects, we also decided to cover Keylight. This keying tool from The Foundry has been included with After Effects since the Reagan administration (give or take), and we’re going to see how to make this amazing keying tool work for you, as well as potential roadblocks to avoid.
There have also been a host of great effects added that we’re going to look at. Everything from the mind-blowing 3D Camera Tracker to the Refine Matte effect to Warp Stabilizer, Rolling Shutter Repair, new color-based effects like Black & White, Selective Color, Vibrance, and Apply Color LUT.
I’ve also gone through and revamped TONS of the old stuff. I’ve recently purchased a RED Scarlet-X camera, and a lot of the new footage used in this book is coming from this camera. I’ve also learned so much in the last few years since the first edition was written, and I’ve used so many more plugins and software tools. So I’ve gone back and added new tips in almost every single chapter.
I’ve added several more real world examples, especially in the chapter on Expression Controls (Chapter 8). I also received permission to include footage from Causality, a sci-fi show that I’ve been doing visual effects on, as a practical application of the Fractal Noise effect (shown in Chapter 12). I’ve also added a new use for the Colorama effect—making luma mattes for sky replacement (Chapter 6). I’ve even added a bunch of new audio tips (including an expression from AE guru Dan Ebberts for creating an automatic analog synth riff) in Chapter 3.
And again, this is just a small sampling of what’s new. There are loads of new tips, updated exercise files, added explanations, and more all throughout this book. I’m so excited about it.